A few more before the end of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I’m writing about thrillers of all stripes, mysteries, and crime novels for 26 days in April, based on the letters of the alphabet. All posts are linked here.
After Virtue Falls by Christina Dodd, I bring you Whisper Network by Chandler Baker.
Whisper Network by Chandler Baker : Book Description
Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita have worked at Truviv, Inc. for years. The sudden death of Truviv’s CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Each of the women has a different relationship with Ames, who has always been surrounded by whispers about how he treats women. Those whispers have been ignored, swept under the rug, hidden away by those in charge.
But the world has changed, and the women are watching this promotion differently. This time, when they find out Ames is making an inappropriate move on a colleague, they aren’t willing to let it go. This time, they’ve decided enough is enough.
Sloane and her colleagues’ decision to take a stand sets in motion a catastrophic shift in the office. Lies will be uncovered. Secrets will be exposed. And not everyone will survive. All of their lives—as women, colleagues, mothers, wives, friends, even adversaries—will change dramatically as a result.
“If only you had listened to us,” they tell us on page one of Chandler Baker’s Whisper Network, “none of this would have happened.”
Whisper Network by Chandler Baker: Excerpt
“How much should babies eat, anyway? I am always pumping. I mean, fuck, Ardie, look at me, I’m watching Ellen during the day.”
Grace didn’t usually say “fuck.”
Ardie remembered how long the days felt when her son, Michael, had slept only a few hours at a time. Her entire body had felt heavy and dirty, as if she had a thin layer of grime over her whole body, like unbrushed teeth.
She rummaged through her tote bag and pulled out two sweaty cans of La Croix. She handed one to Grace and dropped down on the floor in front of the couch. Ardie could do things like sit on floors at work because—and she’d be the first one to admit this—she had opted out. Years ago, actually. She slept in instead of spending an extra hour in the morning on hair and makeup. She went shopping almost never. She didn’t spend a minute of her precious time in Pilates. It was the most liberating thing she’d ever done.
She glanced down at her phone. Still nothing.
“So apparently,” Ardie said, “Bankole died. At home this morning when he was getting ready for work.” She delivered the news matter-of-factly. Ardie didn’t know another way to deliver news. It was always, My mother has cancer or Tony and I are getting a divorce.
“What? How?” Grace dropped the tubes she’d been busy trying to reinsert into the funnel-like contraptions poking out of her nursing bra.
“He had a heart attack. His wife found him in the bathroom.” Ardie propped her elbows on her knees, staring up at Grace. “I just found out.”
Ardie had met the company’s CEO, Desmond Bankole, only once, a handshake in the elevator because he’d made a point to meet every person who worked in his building, down to the cleaning staff, at least once. His teeth were very white. He was smaller than she thought he’d be, with birdlike wrists peeking out underneath his suit jacket.
“I’m hiding, by the way,” Ardie said—and before Grace could ask—“from Ames. He keeps asking where Sloane is. I told him she was probably out for lunch. He said that he hadn’t approved her leaving for lunch today. I said she’s the Senior Vice President of North American Legal Affairs and she doesn’t need his approval to go to lunch and—”
“You said that to him?” Grace sat up. Sloane was their friend, but also technically their boss, which made Ames their boss’s boss.
“Of course, I didn’t really say that to him. Are you crazy?”
“Oh,” Grace said, blinking. She toyed with the small diamond cross dangling from her necklace. The electric whir of her pump counted off time between them.
“So I’m hiding in here like a coward,” Ardie continued. “Waiting for Sloane to call me back.” As a rule, men like Ames didn’t care for Ardie. He hated having to listen to someone he didn’t enjoy looking at. When he asked her where Sloane was, his eyes skirted over and around her and he moved on as soon as he could. She didn’t mention this part to Grace.
Ardie cringed. Grace’s breasts could not be ignored in this small room. “It just sucks them up so that they looked like torpedoes. Doesn’t that hurt?” Ardie’s son, Michael, was adopted almost four years ago, a happy end to years of infertility struggles. She’d never done any breastfeeding herself, but she’d always imagined serene suckling, coveted skin-to-skin contact, a loosely draped handwoven scarf to conceal those who were too modest. Not this violent yanking that she was now witnessing up close.
About the author, Chandler Baker
Why pick up Whisper Network by Chandler Baker
This book was very timely when it came out in 2019, with the #MeToo movement hitting the headlines, and sadly, it remains timely even now. There is definitely more noise about workplace harassment of women, but not nearly enough.
This is not a traditional thriller. The set-up takes a while as we get to know the cast of characters–I’d call it more of a women’s crime fiction about #MeToo issues, with an added whodunit.
The dialog crackles, and I love how much, and how deeply, the author knows her subject. The dog-eat-dog world of corporate life is especially hard on women, and the whisper-network, women warning women about male predators in office, is all too real. As are rivalries and the consequences women face when they decide to raise their voices. Most of the characters are unlikable but very real, and you do come to care for them by the time you reach the absolutely worthwhile ending.
Pick it up if you like crime novels that deal with current issues, contain a dose of dark humor and increasing suspense. This was a good read during the covid times. I can only hope that a day will come when the issues covered in the Whisper Network are no longer relevant, but that day isn’t here yet.
Have you read the book Whisper Network by Chandler Baker? If yes, what did you think of it? What books are on your reading stack? Which of them will you recommend?
Through the month of April, to celebrate the challenge and get some support for THE BLUE BAR, I’m holding this giveaway:
Enter to WIN a 50 USD Amazon gift card for this
Entries are simple: click the RAFFLECOPTER link above, and follow the instructions. It calls for a Goodreads add, a subscription request, and a follow on Instagram.
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